PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – Local law enforcement agencies are beefing up their presence on city streets this weekend with more uniformed officers and investigators out in the community in an effort to discourage gun violence in Portland.
“There’s a cycle of violence here that we’re trying to break," Portland Police Bureau Chief Chuck Lovell said. "There’s retaliation and things of that nature that we’re really concerned about which is driving the actions that we are going to take this weekend.”
Lovell said the shootings we're seeing are especially concerning because many of them are gang-related.
“When I look at it as these gang-related shootings with retaliation, that’s what’s so troubling because you have the potential for one shooting becoming two becoming three and that’s really the worry for us,” Lovell said.
Investigators with the Portland Police Bureau's Enhanced Community Safety Team and the FBI presence will also provide quick responses to shootings. Crime Prevention Outreach workers from the Office of Violence Prevention will also be in the community to provide support and ease tensions.
In a joint statement from Mayor Ted Wheeler and City Commissioners Jo Ann Hardesty, Mingus Mapps, Carmen Rubio and Dan Ryan said the city learned three alarming things that lead to their decision:
- Groups involved in this violence have issued an order to shoot someone in the next 30 days or be shot for not showing loyalty.
- Individuals and groups are here in Portland from Washington and California to engage in and advance gun violence.
- These actions begin a retaliatory cycle that only escalates. The current trajectory of the rising violence is unacceptable, and it requires immediate action.
FBI special agent Kiernan Ramsey said they’ll be looking closely at these shootings and there could be federal charges brought against those involved, especially those not from Oregon.
“If we see gang members travelling here from out of state, certainly that automatically gives us a federal nexus,” Ramsey said.
Lovell and Ramsey said while this is a start, things won’t change overnight.
“I think for the amount of shootings that we’ve seen and we’re just trying to use our resources to their best use possible to try to keep these shootings from escalating even further,” Lovell said.
The city council also noted that seven people who were shot during a vigil in Gresham last month.
"There are several vigils and funerals planned in Portland in the coming days, and these vigils are credible targets for further violence," the city council said. "Our goal is to de escalate and lower the tensions in the community that is fueling this crisis.
The FBI said in a statement that it would be working with the Metro Safe Streets Task Force to respond to the shootings.
"It will be a very visible effort with two goals in mind. First, the task force wants to show the community that it is working to bring peace to the streets. Second, the task force wants shooters to know that law enforcement is working assertively to find them and arrest them," the FBI said.
"We know that there are crime groups retaliating against other groups for perceived grievances. We also know that the number of bullets being fired - often dozens at any given scene - keep going until they hit something or someone. There are random, innocent victims who did nothing more than be in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Kieran L. Ramsey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon.
So far in Portland this year, there have been 31 homicides, 23 of which have involved gunfire. At this point last year, there were four homicides, and in 2019 there were three.